Sycophancy is for the unpatriotic: Reaction to Idriss Ali Nassah article

In his halcyon days, Idriss Ali Nassah was a fierce social and political commentator, acerbic in vocabulary but measured in thought and analysis. It also helped that he edited a publication that supported the efforts of this newspaper in driving critical national discourse on all matters Democracy and Governance.

President Mutharika with Idriss Ali Nassah

President Mutharika with Idriss Ali Nassah

President Banda Banda flanked by Idriss Nassah

Idriss Nassah (L) with former president Joyce Banda

There could not be a better time to for media in Malawi to exude these fantastic qualities than at the present moment. Over 50 years into Independence, we are still the perfect stereotype of underdevelopment; poor health systems and infrastructure; virtually no reliable service delivery across the country; an ever-fragile economy; sub-standard education at both lower and higher levels; and so much less.

If Mr Nassah is right about one thing in his latest entry on this page then it is that Malawi can barely afford to move forward without changing its national psyche. The psychological damage that has been visited upon Malawians in the post-colonial era remains one of the most undocumented tragedies of our time. Far worse is what we have had to endure post-1994, when the damage retreated into subtlety but kept reinventing its devastating impact.

What we have clearly seen with our own eyes, however, is how ruling elites, taking turns to capture State power via “democratic” elections, have repeatedly raped the soul of this nation, taking unashamed turns at looting the national coffers while impoverishing millions of Malawians. In this regard, Mr Nassah is being rather dishonest when he suggests that what we have come to know as Cashgate, was a phenomenon peculiar to a single regime, that of former president, Dr Joyce Banda.

For someone writing against the backdrop of an African Union (AU) Summit, whose theme was on women’s empowerment, Mr Nassah should have been sensitive to the implications of his key message–that president Peter Mutharika is saving a country ruined by Banda.

This is not to absolve the Joyce Banda administration of any wrongdoing. Rather, it is to insist on truth, honesty and consistency in the types benchmarks we set for the leadership of this country. We simply cannot have rules for male leaders and rules for female leaders. Leaders must just lead and allow themselves to be held accountable against standards that reflect national hopes, dreams and aspirations, not gender.

Given our national demographics, in fact, it is the women of Malawi who have carried the heaviest burdens and single-handedly borne the brunt of leadership failures since time immemorial. Therefore, to ascribe collective national failure to a female presidency alone – as Mr Nassah does in his article –is not only frivolous but more insidiously, an unprecedented exhibition of male chauvinism.

The irony, quite remarkably, is inescapable.

Idriss Ali Nassah represents a generation of Malawians who are supposed to know better – university educated, holding senior management jobs, ambitious and visionary. It is this generation that is our best hope yet. Regrettably, in Mr Nassah’s article, an almost sycophantic tribute to president Mutharika, there is also the tragedy of seeing dazzling potential fizzle itself out in the overzealous service of political order.

This, of course, is not to deny Mr Nassah his agency or, for that matter, democratic choice. Rather, it is to sincerely demand more from him as a hard-working Malawian who has been fortunate enough to edit a newspaper in his country, obtain international higher education and work at international diplomatic and media institutions.

Having worked at the AU himself, Mr Nassah will know that what he gives president Mutharika credit for is actually norm and standard. Any single session occurring during an AU summit can pass as “crucial”. Fact. Mutharika was just doing what we, Malawians, expect him to do when he draws taxpayers’ money for such purposes.

Have we set the leadership bar so low that any little thing a leader does is worth many column inches of praise?

I was in Johannesburg, South Africa during the AU Summit. As opposed to seeking photo opportunities with presidents in the plush Sandton district, I went downtown to seek the views of ordinary Malawian. These are the remnants from the bus-loads you saw arriving in the country, voluntarily repatriated from South Africa in the aftermath of Afrophobic violence.

A Malawian barber I spoke with asked the most poignant question: “For how long are we going to be pushed out of Malawi, by poverty and lack of opportunity, to go and build other countries?”

There’s a marked difference between blame-games and historical reflection. If we are to substantively build this country for the next 50 years, we’ll need to do the latter. More importantly, we’ll have to do away with the self-hating and debilitating attitudesof turning a blind eye on Injustice.

Malawi is in desperate need of people who love her, sincerely.

 

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chefourpence
Guest

what has the women issues got to do with Nassar’s article? Are we to keep silent on JB because she is a ‘woman’? Fallacious reasoning Mr Kabwato. And why the verbosity? You would have written a direct letter to Idris….

Greencardless Malawian
Guest
Greencardless Malawian

Idriss is a Universal Bootlicker!

Sis zee
Guest

Why do you use big words to communicate, an average Malawian cant understand this article, my lecturer used to say Keep it simple, you dont impress by writing difficult words. Idriss and Levi are close friends dont think akuyambana apa

Mtumbuka
Guest

An article from APM hater who is disappointed to see Idriss say something positive about The President. I see personal attack on Idriss here, i see nothing wrong it taking pics. Should we believe that you went around looking for barbers to interview? Isnt this a clearly made up inteview between u and an imaginery barber in SA? This is a useless hate piece. Just learn to acknowledge credit where its due. U cant say we pay him so he should be brilliant. We have seen silly paid presidents as well as killer paid presidents

kamjuwi
Guest

Hypocrisy and shifting roles of covering Muntharika’s arse from Ethiopia.

Kenwood Maugula
Guest

So when one writes something positive then thats good writing. Rather than countering what Nassah wrote, Kabwato with his obsession of negative stories about Malawians would have just written the story on those immigrants in South Africa. His counterpart chose to write something rather positive about the leadership of Malawi without stepping on any of his fellows in the press industry. Kabwato should have just concentrated on his pessimistic writing not as a response/feedback to Nassah’s article.

clement
Guest
Ali Nasah is seeking attention from APM and DPP. He likes being fotograft with presidents. He thinks he can sway the minds of Malawians with cheap public relations on APM. Malawi does not nead a head of state that is good at “utterances”. No! What Mw requires is a president who delivers on what was promised. A president who even acts on emergencies. APM has a bad record from even when he was a Minister. Ali Nasa, uvale zilimbe. Ntchito akulemba kumeneyi izakusalira mmanja. For those that do not know Levi, pliz follow him on twitter. And you will see… Read more »
Elliam Kamanga
Guest

Its better if Mr Nassa can just go and sleep. He has. Shown that he is blind with issuesaffecting Malawians. Its women who have servedd Malawi. Honestly than the Muthalikas. Problems affecting Malawi were created by Peter and his arrogantlate bro. Bingu left fuel. Hunger and poor international relations but JB a woman solved. JB provided hope but Peter is just quite like mukute there4 when Mr Nassa is writing, he should know that we’re noot dull but we know the leaders in and out. JB is one ofsuccessful African woman more than Peter and Mr Nassan.

Balamanthu
Guest

Kabawto writes sense,for the able minded, for lovers of the country who chose to call a spade a spade and not a spade a spoon.I am proud of you.His line of thought is admirable and his clarity second to none.

Rodgers Banda
Guest

When will we find such Malawians? We flock to SA because devil’s are busy fooling and cheating 90 percent brutes and illiterate who can’t understand the world

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